A Travellerspoint blog

Day 54

Minsk

semi-overcast 4 °C

After breakfast we left around 11:30 in a bit of a snow flurry much to the amusement of the onlookers!

The road out of Homyel took us past some nice wide open flat plains interspersed with big forested areas and the roads were all pretty good. Lots of salt/grit on the road should the temperature drop, but it was up to around 5 degrees in the middle of the day and the sun was threatening to appear.

We had lunch at a small Belarussian canteen where the soup was tasty, warming and very cheap too. The sun had come out as we left and it's always much more pleasant riding in the sunshine.

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Our hotels and visas for Belarus have been coordinated by the very helpful Daria and co at the Belarus tour service who have made our time in Belarus considerably smoother than it would otherwise have been and we followed her directions into Minsk today as well as her advice ("don't hurry, we have strict police so be good") passing lots of colurfully painted buildings and houses, stopping at the Hotel Orbita arriving just after half five which has got to be a record for us arriving somewhere. It was still light! We were met by the lovely Daria, checked-in quickly and were given the gen on Minsk.

Just having a relaxing beer before tidying up to go and see the town.

236 miles today takes us over the 10k mark to 10012 m total (16019 km).

Posted by EdAndJames 10:10 Archived in Belarus Comments (0)

Day 53

Homyel

overcast 3 °C

We had a few things still to do this morning (cleaning/lubeing my bike and printing off a map of tonight's hotel were a couple if them) and after that we loaded up the bikes for the first time in three days. It was a little sad to say goodbye to Kiev and Ksenia especially as she'd made our stay there so enjoyable and productive too, but we had to saddle up and drift on.

Both our bikes were running brilliantly after the services, mine in particular had balanced wheels for the first time since early France! We were soon in familiar mode on the roads, following the Cyrillic signs well and had to remind ourselves that this was Ukraine, so lots of police at the side of the road again and varying speedlimits. One particuarly crafty pair were hidden behind a pothole-repairing truck and crew. More charges, more revving requests!

As we've been riding inland and North it's been getting noticeably colder too. Today it must have only hit 3 degrees in the middle of the day and the roads and borders were flanked with snow again despitie being nearly at sea leavel. We also kept an eye out for Chernobyl but didn't spot it.

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The border controls out of Ukraine and into Belarus took a couple of hours to pass and once we had it was dark and I noticed one of my headlight bulbs had blown. A quick bodge-job and we were on our way to Homyel.

We got into the centre of town okay but again struggled to exactly locate our hotel, tonight called the Hotel Tourist! The town itself seemed quite vibrant with lots of colourfully lit buildings and activity. A few helpful passers-by sent us in the right direction (what would we do without them) and one guy on his racing bike even guided us the last 2km or so on his bike at Mach 9!

We decided to just eat in the hotel restaurant this evening as we heard Michael Jackson and saw flashes of colourful activity inside. Turns out there was a singing and dancing routine on which was very good, but the dancing by the rest of the people in the restaurant afterwards was fascinating. Utterly unashamed old-style courting by all ages!

We stuck 100 000 down for the meal and headed up to bed. 171 miles and another border today.

Posted by EdAndJames 10:10 Archived in Belarus Comments (0)

Day 52

Kiev

semi-overcast 4 °C

Today we managed to prise ourselves from our beds in time for a 09:45 breakfast, this meant we didn't get as many strange looks from the staff, which was good!

As we had made up some time on the road by doing Odessa to Kiev in one day this ws our 2nd day off in this lovely city. The temperature outside was cold, but not snowing or sleeting! Ksenia met us in the hotel lobby and we made our way to the BMW garage to pick up Roger who was dropped in yesterday for a service. A few pounds lighter we headed to a tyre garage Ksenia knew where we had pre-ordered some new shoes for our steeds the day before.

As we waitied for the new tyres to go on we had some typical Ukrainian food at a nearby canteen type place and enjoyed chatting with our very efficient city guide! (Ksenia)

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After this we all made our way to the Chernobyl museum in the middle of town so that we could experience the nuclear diaster in a radioactive free zone. (Well nearly - we were told that some of the items in the museum were still actually radioactive.....negliable though!)

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We dropped Ksenia back at her place and then made our way back to the hotel for a short rest before heading out on the town for a bite to eat and drink.

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45miles covered today running around Kiev.

Posted by EdAndJames 11:36 Archived in Ukraine Comments (1)

Day 51

Kiev [Київ ]

all seasons in one day 5 °C

We made it to breakfast with one minute to spare and the staff were very understanding! Shortly after that we met up with Ksenia again and took her for a ride on the bikes to a Yamaha garage. We had some traditional Ukranian lunch whilst Frazzer was serviced (both front and rear break pads were worn to the bone for a start) and a friend of Ksenia's called Oleg joined us.

After the guys at the garage photocopied a map of our route so far and took a photo of us we then braved more snow to get to the BMW garage to check Roger in before returning to the centre to buy the Ksenia and Oleg dinner and drinks as a thank you for being so helpful.

New tyres tomorrow and they'll be all set to go again!

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Posted by EdAndJames 13:10 Archived in Ukraine Comments (0)

Day 50

Kiev [Київ]

rain 2 °C

Bleak would be a good word to sum up today. Cold, wet, exhausting and ultimately rewarding would also work. But starting at the beginning we had a good breakfast (our hotel is right out of The Shining) and went out to buy some stuff for lunch.

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On the streets leaving Odessa a guy on a moped took interest in us and we chatted at traffic lighs before he guided us to a petrol station on the road out towards Kiev!

It was cold and already raining a little, but from there the road was pretty much a straight dual carriageway all the way North. We were pulled over by police a few times, each one of them saying we should be doing a different speed and one set taking a little pay-off before we could continue. And they insisted we rev the bikes as we left, so we sped off loudly for them hoping they wouldn't just pull us over staight away!

It was pouring with rain by now and we stopped for lunch at a bus shelter on the road, making sandwiches and boiling a cuppa in the cold (around 2 deg). We headed off slightly warmer and the rain continued. The landscape was very wide, mostly flat and quite minimal.

The weather cleared for sunset just as the surroundings became very picturesque too with autumnal woodland on the sides of the road blushed by the sun, but lots of police over every brow still!

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Shortly after that it started snowing again, but we only had half an hour or so of that storm to pass.

We entered Kiev in the drizzle passing an enormous illuminated futurist beast of a statue of a woman with a sword looking over the city. It was very impressive and sent a chill down my spine, but then it was only just above zero and starting to snow again. A number of people in cars took interest and we had some chats in the traffic.

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We navigated towards a hotel in the city centre from my guidebook and the city looked beautiful at night, like Gotham city with powerful uplit gothic stone slabs of buildings. We stopped to check where we were and a couple of girls came rushing up to us seeing the yellow numberplates and thought we were crazy! It turns out we were 50m from the hotel (it's enormous and I don't know how we missed it).

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We checked in with a receptionist who was hard work, cleaned up and met up with the girls Ksenia and Tania for some food and drinks on the town. We're going to stay here for a few nights to service the bikes and get new tyres and it's great to have some friends already.

330 miles today making 9550.

Posted by EdAndJames 13:10 Archived in Ukraine Comments (0)

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